Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas was racing along the southern coast of Cuba early Wednesday morning ahead of Tropical Storm Sandy and several other cruise ships were changing their itineraries because of the storm.
Allure of the Seas was supposed to call in Falmouth, Jamaica Wednesday, but the ship is skipping that stop and heading toward its next scheduled stop Friday at the Mexican island of Cozumel.
Jamaica was under a hurricane warning as Sandy continued to approach the island. As of 7 a.m. CDT, Sandy was 95 miles south of Kingston, Jamaica, moving to the north at 14 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
A U.S. Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter aircraft reported maximum sustained winds with the storm of 70 mph, just below hurricane strength. NHC forecasters expected Sandy to strengthen during the day and become a hurricane before reaching Jamaica’s southern coast.
Sandy is expected to hit Jamaica Wednesday afternoon and Cuba Wednesday night into Thursday morning. It is forecast to continue into the Bahamas later Thursday.
In addition to Allure of the Seas, the expected path of the storm has caused a change in plans for several other cruise liners.
Carnival Destiny skipped a scheduled stop Tuesday at Georgetown in the Grand Cayman Islands and docked in Cozumel instead. It is expected to return to Miami Thursday.
Carnival Glory planned to leave Nassau in the Bahamas earlier than planned Wednesday and sail to Port Canaveral, Fla., rather than Freeport. Carnival Pride planned to be in Port Canaveral Friday instead of visiting Freeport.
Carnival Magic paid a visit to Key West, Fla. Tuesday instead of sailing to Montego Bay and will visit Mexico’s Costa Maya Thursday, rather than Grand Cayman Island. Carnival Valor was visiting Costa Maya Wednesday and Cozumel Thursday in place of scheduled stops in Jamaica and the Grand Caymans.
Tropical storm conditions were expected to hit Jamaica Wednesday morning with hurricane conditions anticipated by afternoon. Tropical storm conditions were expected this afternoon in parts of Haiti, which is under a tropical storm warning. A tropical storm warning also was in effect for the central and northwestern Bahamas. The southeastern Bahamas and portions of the Florida coast were under a tropical storm watch.
The government of Cuba has issued a hurricane warning for six provinces, including Guantanamo, site of a U.S. military base. Hurricane conditions are possible in Cuba by Wednesday evening, according to the NHC.
Sandy was expected to dump 6-12 inches of rain on Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Some mountain locations could receive up to 20 inches of rainfall, which could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
The NHC expected a storm surge to accompany the storm’s arrival in the warning areas, raising normal tide levels by several feet.